Here’s a look at the best of the cruising multihulls that will be on display at the fall boat shows, particularly at the Annapolis Sailboat Show from October 5 to 9 (published August 2017)
Balance 451 and 526
The Balance brand was created by multihull expert and founder of The Multihull Company, Phil Berman, to offer the multihull market a new, performance cruising cat at a price below the very pricey cats like Gunboats and others. The new 526 that was introduced last year is a handsome design that has proven to be very fast yet comfortable to sail. Built in St. Francis Bay, South Arica by experienced multihull builders, the 526 is full of interesting innovations that are the fruit of Berman’s many years sailing and selling multihulls.
The Bali line of cruising and charter cats was created in a partnership between Catana Yachts of France and Dream Yacht Charter. The Bali 40.3, like the 40.0 and 40.5, makes use of every square inch of open space available on a modern cruising cat. The indoor-outdoor flow of the boat runs from the huge lounge on the foredeck back through the wide-open saloon to the huge cockpit. The raised helm offers great views for the skipper and there is another lounge on top of the hard dodger right behind the helm.
Corsair F 22
This little rocket ship trimaran from Corsair is really more of a daysailer and perhaps one design racer than a weekender. The 22’s real mission in life is to put a happy smile on the faces of those sailing it because it will be the fastest 22 footer out on the water and will sail rings around monohulls twice it size. Like the other trimarans in the Corsair fleet, the 22 folds up so it can fit on a trailer and be hauled around behind a family SUV.
Speaking of folding boats, the lovely cruising trimarans from Denmark offer all of the folding convenience of the Corsairs but bring different concepts to the table and a different approach. At the boats shows, compare the two to see all of the similarities and the differences. And, check out our review of the Dragonfly 28 on page 30 and a cruising yarn from Denmark on page 26.
FP in France may be the fastest growing multihull builder in the world and is now competing with the likes of Lagoon and Leopard. With boats ranging in size from 35 to 58 feet and new designs coming to the market almost yearly, the company is changing the dynamic in the production cat market. Their new 44 power cat that will be introduced to America this fall has had an amazing launch in Europe with dozens of boats sold in the first six months.
The Hs stand for Hudson and Hakes, the boat’s builders, who have taken the concept of “performance cruising” to a new height in both power and sail models. Using the latest high-tech techniques and breakthrough designs, HH is redefining the concepts made popular by Gunboat and others. The sailing cats are elegant speedsters, while the new power cats take that theme and adapt it to the power cat world.
South Africa has built a well-earned reputation for being the best place in the world to build a semi-custom cruising cat for a couple or a family that is heading off cruising. The Knysna Yacht Company, founded and run by Kevin and Rika Fourche, is a great example of how well boutique boat building works. They will build you a 50 footer, based on their newest design, and tailor it to your exact specifications. The quality of the workmanship is superior and the end result, a Knysna 500SE, will take you anywhere in safety and style.
Last year Lagoon introduced their largest boat ever in the Seventy7, which is a super yacht by any standard. It was the queen of the Miami show and has found an avid following in the billionaire set. For mere mortals, this year Lagoon is introducing the new 40 and 50 that will be great for families and in the charter fleets of the world. Lagoon is part of the Beneteau Group and has long been integrated with CNB in Bordeaux, France. Always a leader, check out the new boats at the fall shows.
Leopard Catamarans are built by Robertson & Caine in Cape Town, South Africa. The company is a close rival for both Lagoon and Fountaine Pajot for leadership in the production cat market. The company has an unique business relationship with The Moorings and Sunsail since it only builds boats for their charter fleets and has turned over the marketing of the Leopard brand to the charter companies as well. The new 43 Power Cat that was introduced a year ago in France and this year in the US, is proving to be a game changer in the charter fleets. Roomy, fast, economical to run and simple to maneuver, the boat does everything well.
The three standard Aquila models from 38 to 48 feet are palatial and come with all of the modern conveniences of a well-appointed home. The big innovation for the company in 2017 is the introduction of the Aquila 36, which is driven by two large outboards instead of inboards. the 36 is a wide-open boat that will be great for both chartering and family cruising. If you are looking for the “next new thing” at the boats shows, be sure to check out the Aquila 36.
The Maverick 400 comes out of a small owner operated shop in Cape Town, South Africa and is a great example of the quality and innovation that has made South Africa a leader in the cruising cat market. The 400 is a couple’s boat and perfect for family cruising. The company builds a limited number of boats each year and specializes in working very closely with their owners. This formula has been successful and has led the Maverick team to launch the new 440 that was introduced at last winter’s Miami boat show.
Nautitech by Bavaria
Nautitech was an early leader in the cat market and has always been known for building boats that sailed better than most. With the new Open 40, that was followed by the 46 Open, the 46 Fly and the 54, the company has stayed true to its roots while also pushing the envelope in both build quality and engineering. All four boats are fine sailing cats that have very pleasing lines and attractive layouts. Nautitech is now part of the Bavaria group of companies.
Outremer from France is one of the most innovative production builders out there. They combine cutting edge design with futuristic styling and high-tech building techniques. The boats are fast passagemakers capable of sailing at 15 to 20 knots in the right conditions and can make very high average speeds over the long haul. The 45, 4x, 51 and 5x are the current models.
The big news for the venerable French catamaran builder is that Privilege has been bought by the holding company that owns the German monohull builder Hanse. Privilege will continue to build its large, luxury sail and power cats under their own banner but will obviously benefit from a new infusion of capital. Privilege builds three models, the Series 5, 6 and 7.
This Australian owned, Vietnam based, builder of fast cruising cats continues to create fun, family oriented boats that offer a lot of value and innovation. Last year, they launched the 1190 Sport in the U.S., a boat that combines great sailing qualities with a very comfortable accommodation plan. This year, they will launch their flagship 1600 in Europe that moves them into the over 50, performance cruising segment of the market. Keep an eye on Seawind. They are always ahead of the curve.
One of the original boutique builders of cruising cats, St. Francis offers a true seagoing 50-foot cat that is built to an owner’s requirements. Semi-custom, the boat has proven to be a very capable passagemaker with several circumnavigations on record. The quality and care that goes into each St, Francis 50 makes each boat unique.
The new X5 is a truly revolutionary design that combines futuristic styling with a level of design and build detail that is nothing short of remarkable. Check out our full review of the new X5 on page 38. Plus the boat will be on display at the Annapolis Sailboat Show.